This year’s New York City Wine and Food Festival’s burger battle was a massive face-off featuring over 20 chefs in an old warehouse in Brooklyn, with Bobby Flay’s nacho-style burger taking the people’s choice award. (If you’re inspired, browse our collection of Bobby’s best burger recipes.)
Jose Garces has a big Iron Chef America battle coming up Sunday night, but he’s already a winner in my book. Our newest Iron Chef hails from Philadelphia—a city I love dearly (I went to college there). Garces opened his first restaurant, Amada, in Old City just a few months before I graduated, but it quickly became one of my favorite spots. His mini-empire has proliferated since, with restaurants all over Philly and one in Chicago.
Just a couple of months ago, he opened up a new gourmet market/cafe called Garces Trading Company, and he’s got more ventures in the works. You may have seen him this week on Nightline, talking about Cinco de Mayo and his Latin roots. With all this plus his Next Iron Chef win last fall, I’d say Garces has experienced a pretty successful five years.
On a recent trip back to Philly, I was psyched to lunch at one of his latest ventures, Village Whiskey. While all of Garces’s other restaurants are Latin-inspired (Amada does tapas, Distrito is Mexican, Chifa has Peruvian influences…), Village Whiskey is unapologetically American. Think burgers. Pulled pork sandwiches. Lobster rolls. Chicken-fried steak.
Inside, the narrow space has a speakeasy feel, with white-tiled walls, dark leather banquettes and wooden fans spinning overhead. Obviously, there’s a long list of bourbon and Scotch. But we came for the food. Specifically, for the burger—the Philadelphia Inquirer has called it the city’s best.
Any food-lover knows that burgers are all the rage these days, showing up on menus everywhere from dives to fancy four-star restaurants. Food Network chefs are all about them—Bobby Flay just opened up his fifth Bobby’s Burger Palace, this one in Philadelphia, where fellow Iron Chef Jose Garces also has a terrific burger joint. On Ultimate Recipe Showdown this week, the competitors showed that home cooks can also make some killer burgers.
The burger episode was even more intense thanks to a heated battle-within-a-battle: Father versus Son. Michael Cohen went up against his dad, Harold, the reigning champ of last season’s burger showdown.
The eight burgers presented were diverse in their toppings and flavors, and the judges pronounced many of them excellent. Today Katherine Alford, Vice President of Food Network Test Kitchen and URS judge, shares her expert insight on how to achieve burger perfection at home.
FN Dish: Many of the burgers in this competition had a lot going on, from salsas to dressings to herb butter to grilled lettuce. For you, what are the key components of a great burger?
Katherine Alford: For a classic, it’s all about perfectly cooked, juicy, full-flavored quality meat. You need a bun that contrasts with the meat’s texture but doesn’t get in the way and holds up to a mess of personalized toppings.
Submissions are now closed! Three winners will be chosen by our Food Network limerick experts this week and notified by email. Check back on The FN Dish to see the winning limericks later in the week.
We’re giving away THREE autographed copies of Bobby Flay’s new book, Burgers, Fries & Shakes. To WIN, create an original limerick with the subject either about Bobby Flay or burgers.
What is a limerick, you ask? A limerick is a five-line poem with an AABBA rhyming pattern. Here’s an example to get your juices flowing:
There once was a cow named “Fate”
The laziest in all of upstate.
She only ate grass
And passed lots of gas.
Now, she lays on my plate
(By entering a comment, you agree to these contest rules).
My favorite part was seeing Bobby and Rachael debate over burger patties. Not sure who won the debate, as both Rachael and Bobby stuck to their guns, but I’m curious to hear your guys’ take on the dispute. This is the disagreement:
Bobby Flay puts nothing INSIDE his burger patty. No chopped onions, no garlic, no bell pepper, not even salt and pepper. He liberally puts salt and pepper outside the patty, but nothing inside. (Here are Bobby’s perfect burger rules).
Rachael Ray likes to mix every ingredient combination possible in her burger patties: from worcestershire sauce to fennel seed to chipotles, and of course, salt and pepper.
Bobby’s argument: When Bobby wants a burger, he wants a burger….not meatloaf.
What side are you on?
When content from the Food Network Magazine comes in, it always feels like Christmas. (The magazine editors even sent a CD of the June/July content downtown to the Chelsea office by messenger service this time – my personal NYC Santa!) With that precious CD came an explosion of recipes, images and stories that we had been anticipating for months, and we rushed to get it all up online in record time.